The most difficult sport of all. There are no timeouts, substitutions, halftimes, or other breaks. Because of this, the sport requires extreme amounts of stamina and talent to play, and to be successful, it requires even more effort. Cross country consists of long races (minimum 5k or 3.1 miles) over varied terrains, including hills, roads, mud puddles, grassy fields, rocky paths, and sometimes even shallow streams. To complete the race, the runners must not only have the strength to finish, but must also be aware of their surroundings at all times. Stop paying attention to your surroundings, and you could fall, costing you valuable seconds, knocking you out of the race, or even sending you to the hospital. Cross country is not to be confused with indoor/outdoor track. Although they have long-distance events, their longest usually is 5k, cross country's shortest. Also, they have no hills or other obstacles; they just run around a track many times. Road races aren't technically true cross country races, but usually get grouped together with cross country races because of their distance and hills. A true cross country race stays away from pavement as much as possible.
To succeed in cross country, a couple things are neccessary. For one, you have to have a strong heart and put in lots of practice. If running 5+ miles a day doesn't sound like a good workout, you'd better try a less-taxing sport. Secondly, a good pair a racing and training shoes are a must. For racing, lightweight flats or spikes work well; the course determines which is the better choice. For best results, a pair of shoes with removable spikes works well. Training shoes should be sturdy and durable; training shoes should not be your everyday sneakers. Buy another pair specifically for running. Just remember - don't wear training shoes during a race; although flats only cut off a few seconds each mile, over a, say 10 mile race, this can make a big difference. And before a race starts, always make sure your shoes are double-knotted. You don't want to run with untied shoes or have to tie them during a race. Also, always make sure your uniform/shirt is tucked in. This also shaves seconds off your time. Unless the temperature is below freezing, wear shorts when racing, again to get better times. If it is too cold, wear pants to prevent your legs from becoming too cold, thus preventing them from working at their best.
Cross country is cool in that it can be both an individual and team sport. Individuals compete against other runners and their own PRs (personal records) over the distance. The individual runners' scores are added up for a team score; the lower the score, the better.
A lot of people criticize distance runners, especially sprinters. They make fun of us for wearing short shorts, they say our sport is primitive and requires no talent, ect. While it is true we don't have the same turnouts as football, baseball, or basketball games have, our small fan base is friendly. We don't have hecklers and brawls because our team lost. Our fans are civilized and respect the winning team and all athletes, regardless of their talent. I know this one runner whose extremely slow (10+ minute miles), and instead of taunting him, the fans wait for him to finish and treat him with respect. They cheer him on the same as they did for the fastest guy. Rather than just winning and money, isn't this what sports should really be about?
Cross country = a true sport
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